Archive for Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Former KU alumni director will appeal arbitration on firing

Fred Williams was dismissed in 2004

December 27, 2006


A district judge today accepted an arbitrator's ruling against former Kansas University Alumni Association director Fred Williams, setting the stage for an appeal in the case.

Williams originally sued the association in 2004 after being fired from the position he held for 21 years. He sued for more than $2.2 million, alleging breach of contract and defamation.

But even after Williams' attorneys argued against it, Judge Michael Malone ruled that the case should go to arbitration, where a three-person panel found that Williams didn't have a case against his former employer.

Because of a loophole in Kansas law, Williams could not appeal Malone's ruling that the case should go before an arbitrator until after the arbitration process was complete, said Joe Kronawitter, Williams' attorney in court Wednesday.

"He was required to go through the arbitration process to get to that point," Kronawitter said. "I think all parties are aware that the issue is going to be raised for an appeal."

After the arbitrators made their decision, Kronawitter filed a motion to vacate the arbitrators' award - something that the law allows only after allegations of fraud or panel tampering, something neither side alleged had happened.

Kronawitter said in court that the filing was simply forcing Malone's hand, so to speak, so that Williams could file an appeal within the prescribed 90-day time frame.

An appeals process couldn't begin until a judge had ruled on the case, according to Kansas law.

Because of the likelihood of an appeal, Malone's approval of the arbitrator's ruling was a formality, attorneys from both sides said.


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